|About.||What's going on.||Sunshine plus one.||Previously.||Cat food again.|
A favor, from you to me:
My friend Per Jambeck has co-written a new book called Developing Bioinformatics Computer Skills. If you have a minute, please write a review for Amazon.com, whether you've read it or are willing to believe me when I say that Per is a top guy, a defender of justice and a friend to children. You don't have to know anything about science to write a review; just be creative and spread some love. Thanks.
self-portrait, with floating heads.
self-portrait, nude, in the box store.
self-portrait, wet, in mouth of whale, with fish.
This web page is the work of
Marc Heiden, 23 years old, who . He lives in Chicago.
My work voicemail cries out for you:
Players Workshop (Term 4).
Find-a-job: less hours, less pay OK.
Dizzy for the foreseeable future.
sometimes, I also write for
Thinking of Hesterman,
because I'm like that.
Kill Less of Me
Man Cutting Globe
Us Against Them
Notes From Jail
the Onion (W)
Red Meat (Tu)
This Modern World (M)
1 Divided Soul:
The Life of Marvin Gaye
This is a phenomenal biography. The author had complete cooperation from Marvin Gaye over the course of five years to conduct the extensive interviews that provide the core of the book, and Marvin gave sharp, honest and compelling self-analysis (though the author notes that Marvin was high during every session); the writing is equally honest, unflinching about the good and bad sides of Marvin Gaye as an artist and person. It winds up serving as a decent history of the Motown label as well, with participation from nearly everyone involved. (And if you ain't down with Motown, I got no time for you.) It's just such a well written book. The interviews with Marvin Gaye's father and the analysis of the father-son relationship - which ended in Marvin's murder at his father's hands - is deeply chilling, and worth reading as a story above and beyond the music. Vital study for aspiring artists and sex symbols.
2 Dada and Surrealism
Phaedon Press does some very nice brick-sized books on major (and minor) artists and art movements. They feature a good selection of full-color reproductions and fairly good essays that tend to be better at history than art criticism. This book is on the weak side so far (I've paused on it halfway through). The Dada sections don't rate with Robert Motherwell's Dada Anthology - they're actually kind of boring, which is an achievement in itself, given the topic.
Robert Smigel, Adam McKay
I've never seen the SNL cartoons because I haven't been able to make it through an episode of SNL for years. Adam McKay co-wrote the book, though, so that was reason enough to buy it. He was one of the major players during Second City's mid-90s golden era. If you've listened to the CDs that came with that (bad) coffee-table SC history book, he played the "hapless fellow from human resources" in the "Gump" sketch with Scott Adsit, which is only the best piece of comedy ever. Adam McKay introduced my impressionable teenage self to Noam Chomsky during a framing sketch where he played Chomsky as a substitute kindergarten teacher. The book is pretty good. Pump-your-fist and cheer smart moments alternate with the fucking stupid ones like they do on Robert Smigel's own "TV Funhouse", but there are more of the smart ones here. The 1960s Marvel Comics feel is done perfectly. The art is pretty bad, and it makes a few of the jokes incomprehensible. The ads are easily the best parts.
4 The Compass: the Improvisational Theatre That Revolutionized American Comedy
Said theatre was the precursor to Second City and the idea of improvisation as performance; the book is a chronicle of all that up to the mid 1960s or so, and a portrait of young hipster intellectual culture in the 50s and 60s. It's really quite good. The author interviewed literally every one of the many, many major players save Mike Nichols and Elaine May, whose thoughts are fairly well represented through extensive research. The latter, wow, it's hard not to be in awe of her after reading this. The book traces the development of the form and all of the myriad directions it could have (and did) evolve. Essential if you're interested in improv theory.
WEFT 90.1 FM
art 'n resources:
Babelfish Tim Burton
b-side wins again 2001
010525 I have decided to leave work early today in memory of all the soldiers who died at Pearl Harbor, because if they had left work early, they might still be alive.
The HR supervisor got bogged down in her employee performance review and she's going on vacation next week, so my job is out of the firing line for a little while, which is nice. The woman who was in charge of time reports is leaving to work in London for six months today and another woman from the pool of executives who assign projects to me was transferred, which means that there is almost no one left who is authorized to ask me to do anything, and no one seems to realize that. There's a sort of moral obligation to ride out situations like this and see what happens. Heck, if those soldiers at Pearl Harbor hadn't had anyone who was authorized to ask them to do anything...
Thinking of Hesterman, my side-project and your number one source for bowling and indie rock news on the world wide web, is back online on whatjailislike.com. Hipsters flow like water around here.
Here, because I am very helpful and charming, is the Supreme Court's official definition of obscenity:
1) A thing must be prurient in nature
2) A thing must be completely devoid of scientific, political, educational, or social value
3) A thing must violate the local community standards
If it meets all three of these things, it is obscenity.
That should settle some drunken arguments this Memorial Day. I can't tell you how many of my childhood family gatherings would have been radically different if we'd had that in writing.
If those soldiers at Pearl Harbor had had it in writing...
Okay, well, it's getting late.
010524 I saw a job listing for the school that took over the building where my grade school was before the diocese closed it. They need someone to teach music or German. I thought that might be a pretty good opportunity. I don't know very much German, but if they need someone to teach it, they probably don't know much either, so it'll be fine. It's all about the umlauts. Music, that would be easy. My indie cred is decent at best but I could just have my friends come in every week and tell the kids about whatever bands they saw that week. That wouldn't be very hard. I know plenty of people who have been in bands that fell apart, so we could do a whole unit on that. See? Finding jobs isn't that hard.
Hiro came by my desk this morning and we agreed that neither one of us is likely to survive the performance review. We didn't sign yearbooks, hug and shriek BFF!, but there will be time for that later. A correspondant in Atlanta says that the company is trying to keep layoffs on the downlow, fearing that it will make their IPO look bad, and that he knows people in Atlanta who have been dropped. Eh, you know. I'll tell you what's going to make their IPO look bad: the fact that I peed all over it. I wish I did that. Man, I want to get on welfare and have six babies. I thought that was supposed to be easy, Reagan, you liar.
I was going to spend today auditioning new topics to succeed the monkey-man, because let's face it, I'm lost without the monkey-man. That one was right up my alley. I tried doing some Senator Jeffords humor, but it all sucked. There was a study about placebos not being as effective as was once thought, so I figured I could talk shit about various placebos and ride that for a week or so, but that ran dry too. Making like the post-Jordan NBA, then, I was delighted to hear:
(news) Hysteria over India's "Monkey Man", blamed for a range of attacks and two deaths in New Delhi, has spread hundreds of miles to neighbouring Rajasthan. Residents across the Nagaur district, more than 220 miles west of the capital, claim to have seen an apparition, described as a cross between a huge monkey and a computerised robot. They have formed neighbourhood defence committees. Although, as in Delhi, there have been no confirmed sightings of the creature, Niranjan Arya, Nagaur district head, has deployed a team of forest rangers to trap it.
Forest rangers vs the monkey-man? Hah! Those forest rangers are fucked! I like the DIY nature of the monkey-man hysteria. You don't need any actual evidence of the monkey-man - you just get freaked out and you qualify. The New Delhi police get cranky and tell you to stop it but everyone gets to have vigilante groups anyway. Ah, things are lookin' up I think.
(comic strips) BEETLE BAILEY: Tuesday, Mort Walker appeals to our racialized understanding of coolness, as Lt. Flap explains to Sarge that whatever Lt. Fuzz likes is automatically "out" -- e.g., white-boy Fuzz's obliging "Wassup?" greeting. Oh, hey, Lt. Fuzz is trying to get jiggy. Good thing Lt. Soul Brother No. 1 -- who clung to a blowout Mod Squad Afro through the whole Reagan administration -- is there to hip Camp Swampy to the real hep jive.
On Friday Gen. Halftrack drinks alone, declaring it the high point of his day.
I may have mentioned this before, but the Baltimore City Paper runs a phenomenal weekly column that recaps the week's comic strips. Essential reading. Oh, what a nice job that would be. This fucking company is like an entire newspaper full of Rex Morgan, MD anyway.
In more relentless blogging, there is a short and sweet bit on Pearl Harbor at randomWalks that provides helpful psychic defense against Disney's upcoming monstrosity by the same name.
Regarding yesterday's provocative issue: 41% of respondents felt that if you're man enough to tame a dragon, you've got to be man enough to take care of that dragon. 26% said that the crappiness of the dragon was a mitigating factor, 11% could not imagine not loving a dragon and 12% said that the other respondents were fags. So there you go: another issue, considered.
010523 Most of the people who work here went to the Cubs game today. There were a couple too many people left behind to take off my pants at work, which is beginning to look like a goal that will have to be left unfulfilled. It wasn't one of the major ones, anyway.
I left for a couple hours this afternoon to go find a cookie. It was quite pleasant, walking from store to store, inspecting their cookies, passing judgment and leaving. I was free to wander, and they were stuck with those cookies. Eventually, I bought a cookie. I would grade it a C+. I have high standards, though. I read a newspaper while I ate the cookie. It claimed that the monkey-man hysteria in New Delhi is settling down. Probably. If I know people, and let's face it, I know people, they've made the monkey-man get a job in some office by now. There's no future in running around and being a man-monkey, see. Ah, what the hell am I going to write about now? Come back, monkey-man.
(article) The facet system has succeeded in reducing unwanted player-versus-player violence, but, if the time I spent with the game masters is any indication, it has certainly not eliminated it. One complaint received by Game Master Quinnly concerned a character named Gaudemus, who, it was reported, was sicking his dragon on other characters. (Dragons can be tamed and kept as pets.) Quinnly hastened to the scene:
GM QUINNLY: Let's discuss your releasing dragons to kill other players.
GAUDEMUS: That's illegal.
GM QUINNLY: Quite.
GAUDEMUS: I released it because I don't want it. It was a crappy dragon.
GM QUINNLY: I am releasing you on this warning.
What a great article. Should people be held responsible for dragons they don't want any more? Every time you think you've considered all the issues, whoops, here comes a new issue that has to be considered.
010522 Charlton Heston was re-elected as president of the NRA. At first, I was happy about that. Under his leadership, the NRA has gone from disturbing and creepy to hysterically funny, and I'd hate to lose that. It keeps Heston busy, off the streets, you know the drill. It occurred to me as I started to write this, though, that maybe it might be funny to see who they come up with next. They've got to be addicted to the palatability of a celebrity president, so they'd be bound to wind up with someone entertaining. Schwarzenegger, perhaps? He'd be my choice. Maybe when he's a little older, less believable as a guy who might actually shoot you.
Merriam-Webster says that 'palatability' is a legit conjugation, so I'm pretty chuffed about that.
(MONKEY-MAN HYSTERIA CONTINUES) Meanwhile, a number of localities including Jatwara, Ghukna, Shibbanpura, Nasirpur, Chanderpuri, Maliwara and Vijay Nagar residents have mobilised small self-styled bands of local youths to hunt down the monkey-man and remove fears from the minds of the people. In other areas, people are taking recourse to superstition to allay fear. In fact, the matter got out of hand at Kailash Nagar where residents caught hold of a girl named Manju and started beating her. The residents said that the "devilish soul of a monkey" had entered into her body.
That is the best excuse ever. Mark this day, because in centuries to come, the "devilish soul of a monkey" plea will dominate the judicial system. People will be unable to imagine the world before it existed. How do you plead? Guilty, not guilty or devilish soul of a monkey? Your Honor, my client pleads devilish soul of a monkey. For anyone who is just catching up with the incredible saga of the New Delhi monkey-man, the Hindustan Times has a full coverage page that neatly summarizes the details of this, the crime of the century.
In other news, correspondent Per Jambeck alerted me to the following:
(news) Heather Eves, of the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force, one of the groups working with Unep, called for better education. She said: "Where great ape tourism has been developed, for instance in Uganda's Bwindi and Kibale Forest national parks, the animals have become to local communities an important source of revenue worth more alive than dead. But too few people are aware of the role gorillas play in regenerating woodlands by dispersing seeds and pruning trees. Along with elephants, the great apes are the gardeners of the African and South East Asian forests."
An extremely worrisome update on ape-status that includes a really cute baby orangutan. As far as debate goes, there are points and there are counter-points but if you can introduce a baby orangutan to bolster your case, you've pretty much won the argument right there. How do you argue with that? Why do people have to fuck around with the apes? Listen to that, they disperse seeds and regenerate woodlands. That's a damn sight more than consultants ever do. Man, hunt them instead if you have to be hunting something. Let me tell you, baby consultants don't rate with orangutans.
I think my job is about to end. The HR supervisor wants to meet with me, Hiro and Lum (the other two people who have the same job as I do) individually to talk about what we've been working on. She'll want explicit, specific details, of course. And I have none. Well, none that don't make mention of my own urine. My job, outside of a couple busy periods, has survived for almost ten months through sheer force of will and an expertly-kept low profile. Lum will get a gold star, Hiro's on shaky ground but will probably be okay, and I'm over 'n done with. Even if I can fool her into thinking that I have duties that occupy a full nine hour work-day, the meeting is also to discuss what I would like to be doing, and I don't want to do anything. I am capable of telling many lies but I don't think I can tell one about that. Hey, you know, if I get fired, that saves having to give two weeks' notice. I can go home right away.
Why do the updates on this webpage come later in the day and run shorter than they used to? Devilish soul of a monkey, mostly.
010521 I'll tell you what I'm going to do when I get home. I'm going to take off my pants and sit around in my underwear, that's what I'm going to do. I'm not going to put my pants back on until I wake up for work the next day. Most days, I take my sweater off when I get home, and maybe I change my shirt. Well, fuck that. I'll probably do those things too, but what I'm going to do first is take off my pants. If you think I'm kidding, go ahead and try me. Dial my phone number. I will answer the phone, and I will not be wearing any pants, and you will realize that I was not fucking around.
The problem with nice weekends such as the one that just took place is that, by the end, I am finally relaxed and ready to begin having a weekend.
(MONKEY-MAN UPDATE) NEW DELHI - Police in the Indian capital said Monday the marauding ``monkey man'' that terrorized the city over the past week was neither man nor monkey but a result of public hysteria.
Don't they realize that's just going to piss him off? If I know the man-monkey like I think I know the man-monkey, the police can expect all hell to rain down upon them shortly in the form of a monkey-man with something to prove. If you have any upcoming social engagements with the police, I would advise casually breaking them off, using excuses such as Oh, I just remembered, I'm busy then, no, it has nothing to do with the monkey-man, we all know he's imaginary, anyway, I'll see you. That is what I would recommend you do.
Some people may wonder why I have devoted so much space on this web page to the monkey-man. I will tell you why: I think that he is a post-millenial Jack the Ripper, and I plan to be the foremost chronicler of the monkey-man's exploits. I will write a book about the monkey-man's campaign of terror that will be much like Alan Moore's FROM HELL, and that book will be made into a movie; both the book and the movie will be gripping and will feature a horrifying insight into the monkey-man's psyche, although many people will tell me in private that the book was better, and I will nod my head, shrug, admit that I had no say in the casting of the monkey-man and went sour on the project once Heston turned us down.
Back in the day.